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Monday, November 16, 2015

bob the builder 5 of 8


BOB THE BUILDER 5

Okay, right now we are at an additional $2k for backhoe digging, an air well trench and pipe and an extra bit of insulation, on top of the added $800 or so for the extra square feet.  The original B-POD cost $1300, so adding the extra $2800 brings it to $4100 total.  This might seem excessive but keep it mind you don’t need it all at once and that what you are getting is a livable structure that can be survived in without heat except from your trench, solar and from your cooking.  A $4k travel trailer is just a frigid icebox you have foolishly overpaid for which needs constant heat and which is designed poorly.  Your underground hovel of the same price is custom built, comfortable, was cash on the barrelhead a bit at a time and which is much more fire and bullet proof.  Of course, we are not done just yet.  There is one more major expense that most trailer dwellers would not incur, the refrigerator.  All but the most junky trailers come with a functioning propane fridge ( they claim it is duel 12v but I’ve never heard of anyone having the juice to run it that way except while on the road ).  For all intents and purposes, it is a “free” fridge.  You just need two 5 gallon tanks of propane each month to run it.  I think a much better way to do a fridge off grid is to convert a freezer and put in extra solar panels.

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After going through my Amazon link ads, search for a Johnson Controls a19aat-2c Freezer Temperature Controller.  This $50 device allows you a plug and play way to turn your chest freezer into a fridge that only uses 150 to 200 watts a day.  Buy a new chest freezer, say around $150, add the controller, and then buy 400 watts of solar panels for $600.  You now have a $800 fridge, not too far off buying the cheapest on-grid stand up unit, which could run 20 years in theory with the only cost being a new battery every five years or so.  There is your off grid fridge that doesn’t need propane ( which will cost you twice as much in fuel alone every five years as the whole unit cost initially ).  I think 400 watts is a realistic figure, as you should get your needed daily requirement even with overcast days ( if you are getting 5% of the panels rating in winter with clouds, in a five or six hour day of kind-of sun you are still generating 60-80% of what you need.  Yes, after a week of those kind of days you’d have issues, but then you can just turn off the unit, place your food items in an outside shed safe from wildlife, and let the battery recharge.  In the summer when you need the fridge the most you have the most sunlight at a greater intensity which is more watts ). 

More Next Time

END
 
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27 comments:

  1. Personally, I'd go with earth sheltered. But another option is a “bum box” or sleeping cube as described by Phil Garlington in Rancho Costa Nada. I would keep it small, making it just big enough for 1 or 2 people (And with my bladder, also a porta-potti). I would also keep it off the ground on piers as did Garlington. Insulate it well, and in reasonable temperatures, body heat alone will keep it snug. In colder temperatures, a small heat source can heat such a small structure (Think the Eskimos with their whale blubber lamps, but with a candle instead. Just be sure to have adequate ventilation).

    Thoreau, in his book Walden, once considered as a sleeping box, a Railroad utility box in which tools were stored. It was described as resembling a casket. An extreme example of frugality and probably something that most would never consider.

    One time at work, a large plywood shipping container came in. This gave me lots of great ideas for a very simple shelter on the cheap. Take a look at one sometime and see how it's constructed. You can then modify, or construct your own of appropriate dimensions for your needs, adding a basic door and window. You will want to put a slight angle on the roof, or at least tarp it so that water runs off. Apply a few coats of paint, and you're good to go. You can optionally add insulation. It will end up looking like something out of the “Our Gang” series clubhouse, but who cares.

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    1. But, again, we are getting away from the "lure spouse with luxury" theme.

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  2. Using a 12ga as a muzzleloader

    Here is a video of Dave Canterbury using his single shot 12ga shotgun as a muzzleloader. It's a demonstration of versatility, should you ever wear out your shotgun hulls, but still have a brass base, primers, and some black powder. He also demonstrates a clever and simple compromise to cleaning it in the field. He mentions at one point using river gravel as a shot substitute. In his opinion, the single shot 12ga is the most versatile survival weapon.
    Someone in the comments section mentioned an adapter sold for the 12ga that allows you to use a percussion cap. 25 minutes long, but worth watching.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES59LtA7XE8

    Here is another video of a different guy doing the same thing, but it's only 2 minutes long for those that want to cut to the meat of the chase (The first video is more thorough though). A few things that I'd do different. Keep that muzzle as far away from anything on your body that you do not want to shoot while loading, and either use shot or a bigger ball that fits the bore better, and patch it. With the big ball, it's as good as using a slug, and will work for big game. But of course, buckshot will also serve the same purpose.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrwOKT57PYQ

    I'm still of the opinion that the flintlock musket is the absolutely the best post apocalypse gun out there in terms of a game getter.

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    1. I completely agree on last part. Almost anyone can afford a kit.

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    2. “I completely agree on last part. Almost anyone can afford a kit.”

      Surprisingly Jim, the kits really aren't much less than getting a complete gun. And it astounds me that anyone can ask a $1k plus for a flintlock musket? You might come across a cheaper gun or kit at a gun show, or at Track Of The Wolf, but other than that, expect to pay through the nose for one. I'm damn tempted just to go down to the hardware store and pick up a water pipe and piece of timber, and form my own stock and barrel. I can get the lock mechanism at Dixie, but such projects are really above my skill set, and best not attempted.

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    3. Been awhile since I priced one-perhaps around seven to ten years. I remember $150 rifle kits. Looked yesterday and was astonished. Of course, I didn't see a kit so I thought I was comparing apples to oranges.

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  3. use the book "Sunshine to Dollars" and make an ice maker.. for a couple hundred watts during the day you can make a big block of ice quickly, then just use a super insulated cooler. New ones can keep ice for a number of days. Total investment for the "ice maker" is probably less than $200 if you scrounge a little. Even less, if you have an old rv fridge already.

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  4. What about an icebox as opposed to the refrigerator? That's actually my plan for refrigeration. I figure that in the root cellar with much lower temperatures to start, the ice will hold up much longer. The pioneers would cut blocks of ice from the local ponds, and then place them in ice houses covered with sawdust. The ice would actually hold all through the summer, providing them with ice during the hottest months. An icebox in a earth sheltered home should be pretty close to the same thing.

    You would want to use the big blocks of ice, as opposed to the cubes. You can route the run off water to a tank for other use. You could even form your own ice block moulds and make you own ice for some additional self sufficiency.



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    1. A good plan, but not a plan worthy of luring the spouse off grid, per se.

      Delete
  5. Two advantages to the travel trailer -
    1) mobile, you can pick it up and move it to where ever you like (could be important if you have to be mobile to keep employment).
    2) instant, put your money down and you have shelter, park it where you like and you are good to go.
    The frigid icebox and clear tinfoil target features of the travel trailer are obstacles to living in one full time. But if you can buy it immediately after the land, park it on the land and stay in it for one year saving rent of $500/month in 6 months you could have half the money you need to excavate your permanent structure; AND have a 'guest house"/ bug out shelter/ extra storage / or nice weather extra space to live in.
    Or, if is just you , you could go cheaper and stay in a tent, or you can commute from somewhere to be able to work on you land at least weekly (better to do daily). I have found however when staying on the land while working on it I spend a lot more time working on it, thanks to no having to commute.

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    1. Plus, you can dig a pit then park the trailer underground. Best of both worlds-turnkey living with energy efficiency.

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    2. You are halfway there. Think of "dug-in" tanks that have just the gun peeking over the grade. Much lower profile than a main battle tank sitting on flat ground. A parking space for a trailer or motorhome could be dug in so that the floor is a few feet below grade (bottom of windows at-grade? over-dig and fill with gravel for good drainage? if on a slope, dig so water drains downhill) sheltering the "gap" of air under the vehicle and some of the sides. An upgrade for later would be a low carport/woodshed over the hole to put the vehicle out of the weather/snowdrifts. Solar panels could be mounted on the angle-optimized roof. I would dig the hole oriented east-west to better control the shading/not-shading on the southern side of the RV. 4' chain link fence enclosing the curtilage of the home (repel tumbleweeds and some medium critters who eat your herb garden).

      How much extra tax would a "farm vehicle shelter" add?

      pdxr13

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    3. I was thinking more of the trailer down all the way to the roof. Of course, I don't have to worry about water like most folks.

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  6. “A $4k travel trailer is just a frigid icebox you have foolishly overpaid for which needs constant heat and which is designed poorly.”

    Apt description James. As I type this, the RV that I live in feels about like an icebox. And this is in CA. How anyone lives in one of these things in the colder states I'll never know?

    If you really need something to be mobile, a better alternative is to find a wrecked or junk trailer, tear it down to the frame, and rebuild a well insulated wooden box a top it.

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    1. If you need mobility, you are working a job and have a vehicle. In which case you can waste the money heating the thing.

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    2. I was referring more to being able to pick up and take off at a moments notice Jim, for whatever reason one might have to do so.

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  7. Build a 2x4 and 1/2" plywood platform on 6" castors for the freezer/fridge to sit on. Don't forget the 1x4 around the edge to keep the device from sliding off, then you can wheel the thing outside when it's real cold and save some coin/power in the process. I'm going to put one of those together next summer.

    Last winter I installed a ProCom propane wall mounted 10,000 btuh heater here in my office and I'm very happy with it. I don't know how efficient it is because it's connected to our 400 gal tank that heats the house. The unit cost $125 at Menards + $25 for the hook up fittings. It's radiant heat so it takes about 2 weeks to settle in and during that period I am constantly turning the temperature down a few degrees every couple days as everything in here also warms up and traps the heat. By Jan I expect to have the temp backed down to about 60 and it will still seem warmer than that in here. Radiant heat is the way to go, much more comfortable and cost efficient. I have a 3'x3' window over my desk that I keep cracked slightly all the time to keep some fresh air rotating around. I also have a smoke detector and a CO2 detector. 2nd winter so far and no issues at all. I'm thinking about buying and restoring an old canned ham travel trailer and I'll put closed cell foam on the envelope and a Procom on the wall. Yowza....

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    1. I was using 3k btu heaters and they were good for keeping you alive and that was about it. Of course, I was using it 5 hours a day and getting 100 hours out of a five gallon tank.

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  8. Hey Bison!

    Regarding off grid refrigerators - Its been many years, but when working at a remote job site near Mojave, CA, I kept an ice chest charged with ice using nothing more than cardboard solar ovens radiating heat into the dark night sky. The solar "oven" was a cardboard cone covered with aluminum foil. I placed about 1/2" of water in a shallow aluminum pie pan at the focus, then enclosed the pie pan in double Ziploc bags to eliminate air convection around the water pan and to add an air insulation barrier around the inner bag. Daytime temperatures were around 95 degrees F, but night time temperatures dropped to around 50. Radiating heat into the clear night sky froze the water solid. I built 6 of these little "ovens" and was able to produce about 5 lb of ice per night which was collected in the morning and loaded into an ice chest. There was always frozen ice remaining the next morning when the next batch of ice was added.

    I now live in coastal Washington where I seldom have clear night skies, but for minions living where clear skies are common with night time temperatures below about 50 deg F, this is a very inexpensive way to keep things refrigerated off grid.

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    1. Interesting, I've never heard of such a thing. Not that I'm Bill Nye.

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    2. Me neither. I'd like to know what scientific principle causes radiated heat to freeze water. Not saying it can't happen, just never heard of it. Must be a version of that pelletier thing.

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    3. I'll try to explain. Aimed at the sun during the day, the conical reflector collects infrared radiation and directs it to a focus to heat food, etc., but if the reflector is aimed into the dark night sky it works in reverse. Heat from the focus where the water sits radiates outward into the very cold night sky. Though the air around us feels pretty warm, if the sample at the focus is insulated from this warm air, then its heat radiates into the very cold heat sink of deep space. The temperature of space is near absolute zero, so it is a very effective heat sink if you minimize conductive heating from whatever supports the water pan, convection heating from local air, and radiant heating from nearby objects.

      Some tips. It is important not to have anything but clear dark sky in the field of view of the reflector. No buildings, trees, clouds, or the moon. These things are all warm relative to deep space and the reflector will collect the infrared radiation they emit and use it to warm the water. Don't use a glass cover since it is relatively opaque to infrared and will inhibit cooling. Polyethylene bags are relatively transparent to infrared and work well. Use a shallow water pan since a thin piece of ice freezes more quickly than a thick one. About 1/4"-1/2" of water in an aluminum pie pan works well. Place the pie pan on little wooden blocks to minimize conductive heat transfer from outside sources. Insulate under the pan along with several layers of crinkled aluminum foil to prevent radiant heating from the ground from heating the water. Double bag the pie plate with an air gap between the two to help insulate the ice sample as it freezes. You can expect about 20 deg F drop in temperature using this approach so you need ambient temperatures of 50F or below. I've often wondered if it would work at higher ambient temperatures if a bigger reflector is used. Someday I'll find out!

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  9. We've all seen the tiny houses on trailers that cost $200 per square foot. But how much would a 2x4 insulated box with a bucket toilet, simple plumbing drains, a small woodburner and a couple solar panels on the roof to power your freezer cost if built on a trailer if you needed mobility. 2x4 only gives you R-13 if you use fiberglass but spray foam insulation doubles that. Have a couple windows on one side for solar gain and some insulating panels for nighttime and you could have an affordable shelter that beats the heck out of a tent.

    Kind of like your "solar shed" concept. Good article to reprint Lord Bison. I wish I didn't have code restrictions where I am. I could build really small and say screw the relatives. With enough solar mass to store some heat it could be very efficient if on a slab. Solar mass on a trailer is not efficient cause you want to be able to tow it. My old neighbor made a great camper out of a cargo trailer. Added insulation, windows and interior items. Yes, the cargo trailers are more expensive than a flat trailer but you get the structure included. Pretty stealth rig too.

    Like the modified freezer or a standard freezer and cooler concept.


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    1. I like the cargo trailer stealth trailer concept.

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  10. Note to self - a large grape hoe can move a lot of dirt around and dig with less effort than most shovels. True - it can't lift it into a container, but to move dirt around, less work than a shovel. The weight of the head does most of the work - you simply pull or push. Versus the shovel which is stab down, lever and lift up.

    I was surprised that in 50 + plus years, I didn't learn this sooner.

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    1. I'm surprised the amount of common sense stuff I haven't learned in 50+ years. Maybe I shouldn't be :)

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